City releases statement on Farm Center property

Published 8:54 am Friday, February 18, 2022

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As has been widely reported, the Alabama Farmers Federation approached the City of Clanton and Chilton County with plans for a 350,000 square-foot project to be known as the Alabama Farm Center at ALFA Centennial Park to be located on a 527-acre site the City and County had previously purchased. After the stakeholders sent notice of their intent to proceed with project construction and development, the City and County deeded the 527-acre site to The Alabama Agriculture and Exhibition Center Cooperative District as requested.

Following that conveyance, the City and County were approached with requests for additional incentives. Such incentives have included the City and County allocating or financing substantial sums of money to help pay for project construction, absorbing significant utility and infrastructure costs, applying all local tax revenues generated within, and in certain areas outside, the project site to cover construction and operating costs, and other significant commitments.

We have always viewed Clanton as the optimal location for the farm center, and the City and County have been encouraged by the economic projections and forecasts presented by project stakeholders. However, when structuring incentives, the elected leadership must ensure that any deal reached is fair, equitable, and beneficial to all involved (most importantly, our citizens). This requires looking beyond forecasts and estimates into other, more concrete elements and taking all factors into account to ensure public resources are wisely committed. This is particularly important, as in this case, when substantial public assets may be utilized.

Earlier this year the City and County responded with an incentive structure we believe was equitable to all parties. The structure enabled development of the farm center while preserving alternate uses of the site should the project not proceed. We also expended funds to secure the purchase of wetlands credits necessary for development that otherwise would have expired. Regrettably, we have not been able to reach an agreement with the other stakeholders.

To date there has been no construction activity on the site. Per the terms of the original agreement, the 527-acre site will soon be reconveyed to the City and the County. We plan to continue working with the Alabama Farmers Federation to make the project a reality, while being open to other opportunities within the site if the project does not proceed. Indeed, as demonstrated by various public improvements over the past year and announcements of new commercial projects slated for construction, the elected leadership of the City of Clanton and Chilton County is working diligently to attract new opportunities to improve the quality of life of our residents.

We are grateful to the Alabama Farmers Federation for considering Clanton and Chilton County. We look forward to our continued efforts with them and others to come to Clanton and Chilton County where opportunities abound.